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Possession Orders

Additional notes

If you suspect the tenant has left without telling you:

Be careful; you can't simply repossess the property just because it appears to be empty or the tenant hasn't replied to letters. Follow the correct procedure:

  • Send a written notice to the tenant that you want the property back and then ask the county court for a possession order for "non-occupation". Make sure you can show that your belief of abandonment was reasonable and genuine – get proof you tried to contact the tenant, spoke to neighbours, etc. If you get the property back, the tenant may later claim that they had not in fact left and could bring a case of unlawful eviction against you.
  • If you think the property has been abandoned and is not secure (e.g. the door is unlocked and you have no key) you can make it secure, by fitting new locks for instance. Make sure the tenant can contact you immediately if they return – leave a 24-hour contact number on the door.

If you are receiving housing benefit for the tenant, you must tell the Benefits Unit if you think the property has been abandoned.

If your tenant is misusing your property:

Try to avoid legal action by telling the tenant what you want them to do to put things right. If this doesn't work or they dispute what you say, put your complaint in writing, telling them what you expect, keep a copy of proof you tried to sort out the problem.

At the start of the tenancy you should have made a detailed list (inventory) of everything in the property – noting its condition. This can help you prove that the tenant has not looked after something properly but you must take account of normal wear and tear – deterioration through normal use would not count as a ground for possession.

If your tenant is acting anti-socially:

If you receive a complaint about your tenant's behaviour, treat it confidentially and take it seriously. You have a legal right to get discretionary ground for possession of the property if you can prove to a court that the tenant's behaviour has created a nuisance to neighbours but a court does not have to agree to your request to evict if it thinks you're being unreasonable or can't prove your case.

Phone your local housing service, who will check out the problem and give you advice about sorting it out. To take action you need evidence, names and addresses of people affected, dates and times of incidents. Try to establish the truth and look for supporting evidence, neighbours may need to keep a diary of incidents, an environmental health officer can provide evidence of noise problems, the police can confirm that they've been called out to incidents.

If the evidence shows that the tenant has behaved anti-socially (the nuisance has to be substantial and persistent, no just a one-off incident), you can take legal action. You will need to send the tenant official notice outlining the problem and telling them that you're going to court to get possession of the property. If the court agrees that the tenant has broken the tenancy agreement, you'll be entitled to costs and, in some circumstances, damages.

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